Officials of the State Security Service on Friday invaded the Ekiti State House of Assembly and arrested four lawmakers, the speaker of the House said Saturday, accusing the presidency of plotting to impeach the defiant governor of the state, Ayo Fayose.
Mr. Fayose is an outspoken critic of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress-led federal government.
Speaker Kola Oluwawole, who spoke to journalists Saturday, accused President Buhari of deploying state machinery to humiliate the opposition, and coerce members of the assembly to impeach Mr. Fayose.
He said the SSS’ invasion of the assembly was a desperate attempt by the APC to destabilise Mr. Fayose’s government and forcefully remove him from office.
Giving details of the raid, Mr. Oluwawole said the SSS officials, numbering 10, invaded the assembly complex on Friday evening and arrested the four lawmakers.
According to him, contact could only be established with Afolabi Akanni, the member representing Efon Constituency after six hours of his arrest, while the whereabouts of others were still unknown.
The speaker, who would not name the other three members arrested, said the SSS operatives fired shots into the air, causing panic among members and staff, who scampered in different directions.
He said the state office of the SSS confirmed that the operatives were deployed from Abuja.
“At the end of the commotion created by this barbaric act, we discovered that four of our members could not be found,” he said.
“It was only this morning that we were able to establish that Hon. Afolabi Akanni, representing Efon Constituency was abducted and taken to Abuja. Whereabouts of three other members is still unknown as we speak, and reasons for the invasion and abduction of our members are not known.
“However, we got it on good authority that the script now being acted by the SSS is part of the APC and President Buhari’s clandestine plot to cripple the Ekiti State Government by arresting and detaining top functionaries of the government.
“We are aware that 18 of our members have been pencilled down for harassment and the game plan is to harass them to submission, with a view to coercing them into signing an already prepared notice of impeachment of the governor and his deputy.
“We therefore wish to tell the APC agents of political instability that this time around, this House of Assembly will not be available for any ungodly use,” the speaker said.
He warned that the lawmakers were not afraid of persecution from any government agency, including the SSS, alleging that the act was a product of Mr. Buhari’s political vendetta and an attempt to muzzle the opposition.
“Nigeria is not a banana republic that can be ruled anyhow by anyone and Mr. Lawal Daura (from Katsina) and his men, who are playing exactly the same role played between 1984 and 1985 by the National Security Organisation (NSO) under Lawal Rafindadi (from Katsina) should know that this reign of brute force over constitutional democracy will fail,” he added.
While reacting to the development, Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria, the raid by the SSS and the arrest of the legislators was highly condemnable.
Mr. Ozekhome also said the action of the security operatives was dictatorial and undemocratic.
“A House of Assembly is hallowed and sacred and should never be desecrated on any account,” he said.
“The DSS is primarily responsible for security matters and for intelligence gathering within Nigeria, for the protection of senior government officials, the president and state governors. It is neither the police nor EFCC.
“The invasion is more curious and detestable, happening as it did, in Ekiti state, where the governor, Ayodele Fayose, has been a well-known critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, his government t and his party, APC.
“The impression must not be given that the present government which rode to power on the crest of popular opposition and critical dissent is muzzling opposition, or brow beating and intimidating those who hold different opinions.”
He urged the SSS to immediately release the legislators, or charge them to court.
Efforts to get the SSS to respond to the allegation were unsuccessful as the agency has yet to appoint a spokesperson since Maryln Ogar’s removal.